In 1966 when I was seven years old, there was a swimming pool built near where we lived. Our family bought the membership so we could use the pool. We were members number 7. Mom signed my brothers and me up for swimming lessons. There were several days of instruction and classes started at 8:00 am. We were at the pool each morning which seemed like the break of day. I was barely awake when I pulled my swimsuit on. There were several classes according to age group, so my brothers and I were in different classes. I remember walking up to the pool and was fascinated at how flat the water was. No one had gotten in the water yet so there were no waves. At the shallow end of the pool were two sets of steps on each side of the pool and when the instructor started class, we were told to sit with our feet in the water on the top step. Wow, that water was cold! I don’t like cold anything and the thought of getting into the cold water was not appealing. Across the pool I saw my older brother in his class at the steps and behind me at the kiddy pool was my younger brother in his class. Eventually we had to go under water so once we did, the water did not seem so cold. Class lasted about an hour.

After the lessons were over at 9:00, the pool opened for all members to swim. I remember swimming out to the deeper side of the pool and watching with fascination the bottom getting further away. I sort of had the feeling of flying over the pool bottom. That was so cool.

At 50 minutes past each hour the lifeguards blew their whistles for everyone under the age of 16-years-old had to get out of the pool for a 10-minute break. I remember sitting on the side of the pool with my feet in the water being jealous of the few people that did to have to take a break.

One day my older brother Johnny challenged me to swim across the pool to the other side under water without stopping to get a breath of air. I would make a little over halfway before gasping for air. Over the next few days, I practiced until I was able to make it all the way across. My method was to swim as close to the bottom of the 5-foot-deep part of the pool as I could so I would not be tempted to raise my head for air. Later I would work on holding my breath longer and longer until I would swim to the bottom of the 12-foot deep where the dive boards were. I would sit on the bottom and watch people dive. That is until a lifeguard saw me and made me get out of the pool for a break as punishment for being in the deep end while people were diving.

Those long sunny days of summer we lived at that pool were so much fun. Our tans were dark, and eyes were red from the chlorine. Leaving the pool to go back home I pulled my stingray banana seat bike away from where all the bikes were near the gate. I would ride the trails that we used to cross a field that ended up near a convenience store. Most days we would go in the store to get an ICEE. I love to mix the coke and cherry ICEE together from the machine. There were coupons on the sides of the cups which we would cut off and when we collected a certain number of them we could redeem them for a free ICEE.

Reminiscing of those hot summer days of freedom when we would ride our bikes all over our small town. Life was so simple then and friends were like brothers and sisters. On our street of Plantation Drive there were many families that were part of NASA and other families were in the oil industry. Living on the Gulf Coast south of Houston was a great place to grow up.